Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused by the sustained tension of hair. In general, this affects the hair follicles, and eventually damages them to a point where they can no longer grow hair. The result is gradual hair loss, and if serious enough, can eventually proceed to rapid hair loss, or losing clumps of hair at a time.
There are three main causes of traction alopecia. The most common is known as telogen conversion, which is when a large amount of a person’s hair follicles enter the resting phase instead of the growing phase. This is usually caused by a hair style used over and over that pulls too hard on the person´s hair.
A second possible cause is known as trichotillomania, which is when a person compulsively pulls out their hair. It is a mental disorder, and the root cause of this disorder is still unknown. The constant relentless tension applied to the person’s hair damages the hair follicles, and the hair start to fall out.
The last cause of traction alopecia is from overprocessing, which is the overuse of chemical products in one´s hair. This causes damage to the hair and scalp, causing to traction alopecia.
All three types of traction alopecia hair loss can be reversed if the symptoms are caught in time. If not, the scalp and hair follicles will eventually be damaged beyond repair, and no treatment will be available.
Anyone can experience this form of hair loss; however, there are certain types of people that are more likely to experience it, based on the way they live. For example Sikh men often style their hair and beards in a certain way that pulls on the hair, which can perpetuate traction alopecia.
It is also more common in African Americans, because they often either straighten their hair or pull it into tight braids. Also, women in general are more prone to traction alopecia, because of the hairstyles they tend to wear.
Traction alopecia is not always easy to diagnose, which is why many people don´t notice the problem right away. Some of the possible causes or signs are patchy areas of hair loss and hair may fall out rapidly and in clumps. The person may also have any itchy scalp, or suffer from dandruff. Furthermore, a visible inspection of the scalp could reveal areas that are scaly or oozing pus.
Although traction alopecia is not a form of rapid hair loss that everyone hears about, it is common enough to be a recognized problem. Most importantly, it is crucial to notice the symptoms early, in order to reverse the hair loss before it is too late.